Imagining Your New Career

You might have heard some statement or seen a quote like this.

If you can imagine it–you can do it.

This concept is good for helping people open up their thinking to new goals or careers.  On the other hand, the fact that you can imagine yourself as president of the US or the first astronaut to Mars or the winner of American Idol, doesn’t mean that you will succeed or even that you are best off pursuing those goals.

But the other side of this statement is something everyone needs to remember

If you can’t imagine it, you’ll never do it.

That’s much more reliably true.  If you can’t imagine yourself owning your own business or becoming an engineer–then you almost certainly will not pursue these careers at all.

With both of these statements in mind, I have my classes and career coaching clients imagine as specifically and concretely as possible what their ideal careers might look like.  This exercise is great as a thought experiment (if thought experiments were good enough for Einstein, why not you and me?), so that you can actually try out a number of career scenarios.  Not only does it help you imagine something so it can become real.  It also allows you to safely “test” how much you really want to pursue each career you test.

Here’s what you do:

  • Choose any new, great career or work situation you might like to consider
  • Imagine you just completed a typical work day
  • Go through what you did and jot it down in detail as if recording a day log at the end of your day, hour by hour (or more frequently).
  • Be specific–9–945 am, had meeting with my business partner about how to approach a new client’s problem of xxx (whatever problem a client of yours might have).
  • Go through the entire day in this kind of detail.

If you’re not sure what a person might do in your imagined new career, go do some informational interviews first with people in the field or read about the career.  Find out what the daily work life is like because some careers sound glamorous but be filled with activities you don’t want to do.

Write a few such days for each imagined career and maybe some days for alternative careers or jobs to see what each looks and feels like.

Very important–it does not have to be your ideal day, only a typical day in a potentially idea career.

Then, the most important step–reread what you wrote and ask yourself: If this was an actual typical day in my life, how would I feel about it, about my career, about myself?  This gut-check portion is a great test.  Very often, my clients or class members will come up with a day that makes them smile, but when asked if the day would be something they were happy with if it became real right now–they start coming up with fears, doubts, and changes.

That’s a GOOD thing.  That’s how you can then reshape the day to be more perfect.

If a fear comes up, identify it.  That may tell you what’s been holding you back in pursuing this imagined career or job.

As simple as this exercise is, it can be one of the most powerful as it so fully engages all of your senses and thoughts and desires if you let yourself really do it without holding back because it’s not realistic or what others think you could do.

It’s fast, fun, and can offer fantastic insights.  Why not give it a try or two.

Need a Career Change?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen it many times–people who are certain they hate their career, everything about the line of work they are in.  They come to class or to coaching looking for a new passionate career.  And then find out their passion leads them to the same career.

I’ve seen people ranging from nurses to construction workers start fighting their own conclusions as they realize that what they really want to do is exactly what they’ve been doing.  After all, they know they are unhappy at work.  What’s going on?

Usually, it’s because they are stressed over a bad boss or being overworked or not challenged in new ways.  The career is fine, the particular job or work enviornment is not.

So how can you distinguish between needing a new career or a new job?  Here are 3 quick, basic questions that can help.

1.    When you think of staying in your current job, but in ideal circumstance in terms of bosses and pay and appreciation (the work environment and culture), how do you feel on a scale of 1—10?

2.    What are the 3 best things about your current job? 

3.    What’s the 3 worst things about your current job?

Review your results and

1.    If your ideal version of your current job is less than a 7, then your career and not just the job may be the problem. 

2.    If the best thing about your current job has nothing to do with the actual work and results but with things like “the coffee breaks” or “the person in the next cubicle” or “the benefits” 

3.    AND if the worst things are all about what you actually are supposed to be spending your time doing, then your career may be the deeper problem.

By contrast, if your ideal version of the current job is 8, 9, or 10, the best thing about the job are job activities themselves, and the worst things are all about how your boss treats you or the pay or hours—then it’s probably not about your career.  It’s about your current work environment, so don’t rush off into another field, at least not until you first try to do something about your environment.  If that fails, look to another job, but not another career.

A career coach can help with career or job issues, but whether you work on your own to figure this out or with a coach, you need to identify the specific, ongoing things that are making you feel like you need to leave—your job or your career.

–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and get your career info bonus


7 Things Career Changers Should Stop Telling Themselves (or Their Coaches)

7 things I hear Career Changers tell themselves and what they could be saying:

This week I saw a great bumper sticker: Don’t believe everything you think.  So true.  We tend to accept our thoughts the way we’d never accept the same ideas from someone else.  It led me to jot down 7 bad thoughts I hear from people considering a career change that all ring very loud alarm bells in my head…and after a coaching session, in the heads of my clients too!

1. I don’t know how

  • OK, you may not know how.  That’s why people invented the word and concept of LEARNING.
  • Better Thought — I need to find some way to do this and will start finding out by…(seaching Google, asking my network, talking to a librarian or someone already in the field…)

2. I don’t think anyone would hire me to do this (or would buy this or be my client).

  • Good line for giving up completely.  If you don’t want to give up about your career dream or goal or job search or…anything, stop recycling the past experience of no one being interested, check if YOU care, and then try this thought:
  • Better Thought — I just have to find the right people with the right needs/interests

3. Why try that?  I’m just not good at it.

  • As in number 1–there’s this thing called learning.   Also another cool concept called PRACTICE (check out the Outliers book on the side of this page.  It’s all about how practice and not talent makes the difference in success).  Finally, there’s the fact that you may not be the best judge of how good you are, so go find out if your thought is even true.
  • Better Thought — I haven’t been too great at that so far, but if it’s important for me to do, I can certainly learn how to do at least an OK job at it.

4. I screwed up. What an idiot I am!

  • Join the club.  Who hasn’t screwed up?  The bigger success the bigger the past screw ups in most cases.  Just don’t go from a screw up to judging your entire self or personality (idiot, fool, etc.)
  • Better Thought — How can I make sure I do that better so I don’t screw up next time?

5. I’d love to do….but

  • When clients say these magic words, I always have them put on the brakes.  I don’t even want to hear what the “but” is about until we confirm that they’d really love to do whatever they’re talking about (design buildings or teach skiing or open a floral shop or be an accountant, doesn’t matter what as long as it’s legal). If they really love doing it, then the better thing to say is
  • Better Thought — I’d love to do X, so I need to figure out some way to do it.  OK, so what would be a way to at least get started.

6. I’m too old to change careers

  • Really?  What does that mean?  Usually, I find it doesn’t mean the person can’t get on their toes any more to become a prima ballerina, but that they’re afraid of having to go to school or face younger bosses in a new field or face (illegal) age discrimination.  So those are real issues, but they don’t make you too old to change careers.  Many of my clients are in their 40s, 50s and older.   They can change.  In fact I changed midlife too.  So can you.
  • Better Thought — Because I’m really experienced, I know how to learn and can move quickly through a career change.

7. I’m too inexperienced to get the job/career I want

  • Now we’re on to a common variation of the I don’t know how to thought (number 1).  Again, there’s learning, practice and often lots of places to get that experience–classes, internships, volunteering (great one for many jobs), jobs that will train you.
  • Better Thought — I’m going to brainstorm 100 ways I can get the experience I need (or brainstorm how I can get the job I want without that experience).

We all run some form of thoughts through our head that help get us or hold us stuck, whether in careers we don’t want or in some other parts of our lives. No need to be too harsh on yourself for that (See no. 4. What an idiot…). But, as the bumper sticker says, “Don’t believe everything you think.”

–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and get your career info bonus

© 2009 Leonard Lang. Feel free to reprint or pass on this article as long as you include the copyright notice and the link to

Choosing a New Career–How Big a Career Change Do You Want?

Henry Ford is often quoted as having said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse!,” indicating that customers only know about incremental, not breakthrough solutions. 

Both kinds of solutions are actually valuable--the question is which degree of change do you need when seeking a solution.  Both kinds of change are relevant in terms of careers as well.  The question is, what kind of career change are you looking for?  How big?  Incremental or breakthrough?  A next step or a shift in directions?

When choosing a career some people think they want something new but really would be very happy to take a slight step sideways.  They may think they need to make a big change, when a small one might be enough.

For instance, a clinic nurse might want to switch to a hospital setting — a small, incremental career change (some might say merely a job change).  Or the nurse might seek management responsibilities for nursing staff in a hospital department.  That would be a much bigger change still within nursing, and not as radical as, for example, switching to becoming a high school math teacher or opening a bakery or going back to school to become a computer programmer.

I bring this up because in my career classes, there are often people who tell me they are so angry with their careers, their jobs, their bosses or so burnt out, stressed, or so unchallenged that they need a new career.  All of these are certainly signs something needs to change.  But sometimes in the course of going through my program, they realize that the change they need does not have to be as radical as they had imagined.

So how can you tell which kind of change or solution is right for your career? 

One quick way is to ask yourself:  What’s actually making you unhappy about your current position?

If it’s your boss or your pay or not being appreciated or not learning anything new — then you most likely just need a change of job or need to make changes in your current job, but not a new career. 

If on the other hand, what you are unhappy about is that your career isn’t allowing you to use your artiistic abilities or requires you to work alone on a computer all day–then a more radical solution is needed, perhaps a new career.

On the other side of that coin, you can ask what would make you really happy? 

You can also look at your career or lifework mission statement if you have one and see if that needs changing.  If so, that might indicate a breakthrough is needed.  If that statement is still great, but you hate your work life, it’s more about the particulars of your job.


–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and bonus

Career coaching help also available — just email me for info.

© 2009 Leonard Lang. Feel free to reprint or pass on this article as long as you include the copyright notice and the link to



The Big Secret About Finding a Great Career

I say this is the big secret because in my dozen years teaching thousands of people about how to rethink changing or choosing their careers and work lives, I’ve found that so few people know this that it might as well be a secret.  But it’s not a secret in that you should hide it—quite the opposite.  In fact, I’d like you to spread the word.

So what’s the secret?

If you are looking for new career ideas or planning a career — start fresh.

Am I kidding?  Is that it?  It sounds so simple and trite.  After all most people looking for a career change are looking for a fresh start. Nothing secret there, right?

As usual, the details are what counts.  Most people think they are starting fresh when they are actually carrying a lot of baggage about who they are and what they can’t do.

Here’s what starting fresh means:

For the first steps of your career search process, forget:
•    Forget about whether you’ve demonstrated the skills you need for a job
•    Forget about what everyone has ever told you about what work suits you best.
•    Forget about what you’ve been good at doing at work
•    Forget about what you haven’t been good at doing
•    Forget about whether you’ve heard a career is on the upswing or downswing.
•    Forget about dollars, euros, or other compensation or benefit issues

These are all important factors, so why should you forget about them until much later in your career planning? 

Because you probably have thought about all these things a lot and are still not in the career you want.  That thinking isn’t getting you to your lifework or the best career for you.  You need a fresh way of thinking about yourself.

To get out of that same way of thinking, it’s necessary to lift the blinders (which we all have)—namely the assumptions we make about ourselves and the job market.  That way you can see new opportunities and possibilities.  Only then can you truly start fresh.

You’re probably wondering what you do think about if you’re forgetting about all those other things at first.  The answer is—start with your passions.  What do you love doing?  Don’t just think of work things and don’t include things you don’t mind so much.  Just think about and list or mindmap work and nonwork things you love to do.  Look at those passions in detail—not just travel, but also the elements of travel you love such as researching places to go or learning new languages.

The reason we start with passions in detail is to make sure you have at the core of your work life something that can sustain you, something that can motivate you and energize you.  If you have that, it becomes so much easier to
•    Learn new skills to do a new job
•    Enjoy what you are doing even during stressful periods
•    Stick with a career path
•    Be creative about finding work or clients
•    Be creative and appreciated at work
•    Inspire confidence in yourself at a job interview

Often my clients are confused about what to do and it turns out that it’s because they’ve given up on their passions and are wading through a lot of unsatisfying choices based on pay, and education and current skill levels.   After some coaching questions, they discover they’ve often given up on dreams and that’s what’s leaving them unhappy and confused.

For instance, when asked one client almost mumbled what she’d like to do—be a chef—and immediately in a louder voice went to say but what she’d probably wind up doing might be, and listed some careers that she was lukewarm about. We went back and examined what was holding her back from her real passion and wound up with solutions to all the limits she had assumed were there.  She got a partner, shifted from chef to catering service and everything started to get clear.

Of course, looking at your passions is just the start.  But if you start somewhere else—such as what jobs pay well that need the skills I currently have—you may find a job.  You may even need to take that job as a temporary measure.  But you’re not likely to find a career that will get you up every day excited to go to work.

–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and bonus

© 2009 Leonard Lang. Feel free to reprint or pass on this article as long as you include the copyright notice and the link to


The big MO and Succeeding with Your Career Ideas and Goals

There are lots of things to say about how to succeed with any long-term goals—whether starting a business, choosing careers, changing careers, changing your department’s culture, becoming a lawyer, earning a degree, or even becoming a better skier or dancer. But one thing is particularly vital, relatively easy, and certainly important to keep in mind.

The advice is:

Keep up the momentum. The big MO. Simple really.

That means take steps regularly. Any positive steps.

I’ve seen it with coaching clients, class participants, and yeh, myself too lots of times. Once you start feeling stuck, you tend to keep getting more stuck, feeling more and more overwhelmed and discouraged. It becomes harder and harder to get moving again.

With apologies to Newton and his laws of motion—it’s true that objects (or people) at rest tend to stay at rest.

Fortunately, the opposite is true too: Objects (or people) in motion tend to stay in motion.

My coaching clients make their greatest progress in finding new career ideas or making great plans when they simply complete small steps each week and are held accountable for them. They stay motivated, see at least a little progress all the time, and over time realize they are getting to their career goals.

Even very small steps qualify to keep you moving ahead like meeting with a career Success Partner for 15 minutes for a check in. Or brainstorming with someone about new ways to approach your project. Or reading something inspiring that gets you moving. Or….well, it really can be almost anything as long as it moves you along.

You’ll know if it’s working because you feel relief and energized again.

Even more important, these very small steps can accomplish very big things. Even big, challenging goals must be broken down into smaller ones anyhow. Don’t get overwhelmed by how many steps there are. Just do one of them and keep on moving ahead. Focus on that, and enjoy what you are doing now.

Don’t know what the next step should be? Just follow Lang’s First Principle of Action: You may not know THE next step you must take, but you can (almost) always come up with A next step that will move you forward—physically, emotionally, financially, etc. Each time you move ahead, any remaining stuck point can be seen from a new perspective.

Make sure you don’t wait for some wide open period of time to really move ahead.

Keep on moving and you will keep feeling energized and motivated and open to opportunities that will come your way.

© 2007-2009 by Leonard Lang

Career Mentors

In the post, More than a Network: Your Career Coaching Team,  I recommended you find groups of people to fill at least 5 kinds of key roles-network connectors, advisers, idea people, emotional connectors and success partners.

That’s for anyone, but especially for anyone seeking to change or advance their career or about to embark on a job search.

But some people also need a sixth kind of person, someone who knows the ropes in a particular job, company or industry.  That’s a career or business mentor

This is a person who’s been there, done that and is willing to help you navigate your specific situation.  You may think you know better than others in your company or industry how to go about doing things and DON’T want to do the same old same old thing everyone has done.  You want to innovate and make a name for yourself.  You don’t want to follow old advice and look like everyone else.  You may even have been hired specifically to bring in a fresh perspective.

To Do Something New, Talk to Someone Who’s Seen the Old

Guess what? If you’re thinking that way, you REALLY need a mentor.  Not to conform to the old ways of doing things that are unproductive, but in order to understand how to get things done, how to move your bold new ideas forward, what the inner workings of your company is, who to connect with to move things ahead and how to approach these people.

They can also tell you if your brilliant new idea is what got someone else fired when it went down in flames 6 months ago  They have company or industry history and understand the culture.  These are things you simply won’t know if you are new in a company.

You can try out a potential mentor relationship by asking questions of possible mentors.  You probably won’t want to choose your immediate boss or manager as you may need advice about working with them or be free to say things you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with that person.  But people higher up are possible, and don’t overlook your peers who, if they are knowledgeable about the company, can be mentors sometimes too.

Know What You Want

But before you ask someone to be a mentor or even develop that relationship you should decide what you want from a mentor.  What kinds of questions do you need answered, what kind of advice, what kind of networking support within your company or industry.  Without that, you and your potential mentor will be floundering.

Take your time approaching people, and check out the chemistry.  Maybe you’ve had mentors at school or in other companies before.  Look to these experiences for examples of what things work for you and what don’t.










More than a Network: Your Career Coaching Team

In most cases, when I hear people talk about networking they mean connecting with people who can get them to the right people, companies or information they need.  That’s useful. (You might also want to check out this career ideas post about how to network at events )

But these connectors are only part of what you need to really succeed in your career, job, or job search.   You need a full-scale community of support.  People who do more than just connect you

At the heart of that community are your VIPs for your career.  You might think of them as your unofficial career coaching team because they are performing some of the key roles of any quality career coach. 

Your career coaching team should include people who fill 5 of these career coaching roles:
1.    Connectors—People who can get you to others you need to meet to get moving, get ahead or get a job.  What most people see as their main career building community.

2.    Advisors—People who are good sounding boards and can help you with big picture thinking and with thought-out opinions about what you want to do.  These people are not afraid to disagree with you, but are still strongly supportive.

3.    Idea people—Creatives with great new ways of looking at things to get you out of your rut—not necessarily advice, but new frameworks and perspectives.

4.    Emotional Connectors—People who help you reconnect with your own passions, motivation, and optimism.  After you talk with these people you are charged and ready to act.

5.    Success Partners—Another name for a success partner is an accountability partner.  You typically need only one.  I’ll be writing more about how to have success with a success partner in an upcoming post (or if you have Guide to Lifework you can read about them in detail there).

Can one person play more than one role at different times?  Definitely.  But it’s best to have a number of people who you can call on for each role (except the Success Partner).

To get going, look carefully through your list of contacts and note in one central place the names of at least one key person who can serve in each of these roles. 

Having this list will remind you of the community you have to help you no matter what happens.  It will also make it easy to remember who you can contact, which mamkes it a lot more likely you will benefit from other peoples help. 

For instance, when you’re feeling discouraged, you may not think of some of the people you listed as emotional supporters, but if you have a list, that will prod you to call one of them.  Or if you are stuck for new ideas, you may keep banging away on your own, but you can look at your list and realize you can contact one or more of your idea people. 

Once you have this list of career VIPs, you can expand your list well beyond them.  You can also work with social media friends for a range of advice or ideas or connections too.  But don’t assume the “wisdom of crowds” as good as that can be, can replace that one-on-one support that these key people of your community can provide.

© 2009 by Leonard Lang.  Feel free to reprint this article by including this entire copyright notice, including a link to this site (

The Creative Jobseeker–Don’t Be a Slave to Your Job Search

If you are thinking of a new job or have new career ideas, or if your company may force you to think of a new job or career, now is certainly the time to get ready, not after you’re already out of work. 

But once you’re out of work, how should you spend your time?  Many people say spend at least 40 hours a week on your job search–after all, it’s your new full time job.

If you can find 40 hours of productive work, and it’s not wearing you out to the point you’re headed for an illness or exhausted presentation at your next interview–then that’s fine.  IN the first weeks of unemployment you probably need to spend that much time on your job search.

But this is the real world folks, and in the real world, you may be a lot better off taking time off from your job search in planned ways than pushing yourself unproductively for 40 hours a week every week if you don’t find a job right away.

I’m just not convinced from what I see that most people can put in 40 useful hours, but some do this out of a desire to prove to themselves and others that they are doing all they can.  So they spend hours in social media trying to make new connections, or reply to job ads they know don’t fit what they want or what the company really wants–simply because it’s putting in the time.

What should you do?

Focus on the basics.  Assuming you will be staying in your same field/career/job area, focus on

1.  Networking–always the big daddy of job search and no different today except for the new ways to network. 

I like to think of this as building and tapping into your community of support where you find ways you can help others at least as much as you seek help.  Even during your time of need when out of work, helping others should remain important.  If you are not contacting most everyone you know and asking for new leads from them, you are not doing your job.     

2.  Customize and complete your profiles

Profiles include your

  • Resume (standard and portfolio style as on
  • Cover letter
  • Online presence in LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.  

Don’t skimp on these, especially your resume and cover letters.  Each resume and cover letter you send out to particular jobs should be customized with KEYWORDS from the job description so you can at least get past the computer/human screeners for the first round of screening.

3.  Research job openings and company profiles at companies you might want to work for even if they don’t have openings now.  Do what you can to get past the HR managers even if only to get an email, phone call or brief intro meeting with some decisionmakers in a company you like.

These are not the only things to do, but they have by far the biggest impact.

And Then Do…

If you are doing these 3 well, don’t spend hours at your computer searching for some new Twitter group or contact, some new job lead, some new way to tweak the resume again–just to put in your time.

Instead, make sure you spend the time in other activities, things that maybe you couldn’t when you were at work:

  1. Exercising
  2. Meditating or doing something to stay centered and focused
  3. Taking your time with healthy vs. fast food rushed meals
  4. Sleeping adequately, probably about 8 hrs a day
  5. Catching up in the key skill or knowledge areas in your field of expertise.
  6. Learning something new in another field.  Very often, creativity and innovation come about from applying an idea from one field to a new field.  Get creative–you’ll also be more employable.

When people are out of work and can’t afford some of the fun things they normally do, they often just shut down all fun or else beat themselves up for wasting time in front of the TV.  Reconnect with hobbies and with family and friends in ways that don’t cost money but share good, upbeat energy. 

These 7 non job search actions are necessary, not fluff.  They will improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health.  And there’s a bonus–they are also what will keep you energized, motivated, and positive and confident.  If you can display these qualities when networking and on job interviews, you are MUCH MORE LIKELY TO MAKE THAT ALL IMPORTANT CONNECTION that makes people say, this is someone who I would like to work with, that can get things done, who stands out.

In other words, sure–do the due diligence tasks of jobhunting.  These will take time.  Don’t avoid them.  But see the opportunities that are there to further your well being in other ways and to not waste time with busy work.  After all, when you get that new job, you will probably find it a lot harder to get all that exercise, sleep, meditation, learning, and family and fun time back into your life.

–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and bonus

© 2009 Leonard Lang.


Hold True to Your Career Ideas–Beyond the Fear of Rejection

A Newsweek article recently reported on research showing how powerful rejection by a group can be.  A mere 15 minute exercise leading to complete strangers apparently not including some people in a group led people to become more aggressive, less social, more likely to misinterpret neutral statements as negative, and have less self control (with chocolate chip cookies–hard to blame them).

This, the researchers say, is due to the evolutionary value of staying in groups and rewarding those who can stay together.

I guess I didn’t find these results terribly surprising.  We all know firsthand how painful such rejection can be, in our personal or professional lives.  The question is whether or not we’ve learned to move on and keep up our confidence in spite of this tendency.

But when it comes to careers, it’s vital we don’t just go with the group.  Groups are essential to all we do—we can’t succeed alone—but we also need to beat our evolutionary tendencies.  We need to find out what will bring out our best, what will engage our passions, what will be meaningful and rewarding to us, what satisfies our sense of values and vision. 

Here are a few things I see people do all the time that stops them or sets them on the wrong course due to fear of group rejection. These activities are fine to do, but you need to be aware that you might run the risk of triggering off a desire to conform and a fear of rejection that can get you off track.

1. Asking friends or family what is the best career for you.

That can be useful If your family and friends offer new career ideas or identify passions of yours you are ignoring in your planning.  Do ask for help, but in most cases, make sure it’s primarily about brainstorming or networking or for support.

Too often, though I hear how friends and family are saying what they think someone else should do.  For some people, that’s fine.  It’s just more useful information.  But in line with the studies and common experience, it’s clear we’ll tend to want to go along with our families and friends, at least losing some judgment.

2. Asking people online for career help in forums. 

This might seem a lot safer since you don’t have to turn to your spouse or mother and say, no I’m going in the opposite direction you suggested.  But it still can trigger off some irrational feelings of going against the group, especially if a number of people all offer the same answer, and no one disagrees.  Studies show it’s much easier to go against a group if even one other person is doing so too, but when you’re the only one, it’s very tough.  .

3. Not applying for positions.  That can be a fear of failure or a fear of rejection because you think it so unlikely you’ll be accepted at a company or in an industry–even though this is what you’d love to do and think you could do well.

So often in coaching I see people simply toss out of hand the idea of approaching someone or switching to a particular career because they assume they will get rejected.  They’ll have excuses about how it’s unrealistic or they don’t know quite how to do it, but when we examine it, they find that fear is behind it, often fear of rejection and failure.  

To overcome this tendency to conform, remember:

  • Let your passions and energy motivate you more than external opinions. 
  • Don’t avoid groups, but ask for the support you really want or need from groups  
  • Keep the big picture in mind about finding or achieving your lifework and how that’s more important than a momentary fear
  • Simply being aware of the potential problem can give you some distance from it so you can take your time and not make hasty decisions or statements.

See related post on understanding failure

© 2009 Leonard Lang. .  Feel free to reprint this article as long as you include this entire copyright notice. 

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5 Basics Tips to Prepare for Layoffs

A friend of mine just missed getting laid off as 23 of his coworkers were let go with no notice.  In fact, the company had indicated it wasn’t having a tough time.

So how could he or his coworkers have been more ready?  How can anyone prepare for layoffs?

1.  The best preparation is to find ways to avoid them.  Companies can take the first step, so if you are an exec or manager, think of ways to creatively keep all those good employees you have.  Check out this article for more on that.

2. Don’t get caught off guard.  Notice what’s happening– in news reports about your company, in stock prices if your company is publicly held, in loss of clients, in industry trends.  Don’t get caught in a Chicken Little water cooler panic, but do look at the facts. 

3. If you have a decent or good relationship with a boss, definitely have a sitdown talk about your role and your department’s role as the recession lingers.  It doesn’t have to be about whether or not you are getting laid off, but getting a sense of what’s likely (by what the person says and doesn’t say, by the way).  You may also find out how you will have to take on roles you do not want and so it will be time to look for a new job anyhow.

4. People are irrational in interesting ways.  They will look at you as more employable if you now have a job than if you are unemployed.  So if you are thinking you might like another job, or if layoffs seem somewhat likely, then the time to start searching is right now–before the layoff.  Make the decision to find other work.

5.  Starting a job search in advance means doing ALL the things you’d do if you were already laid off, except getting unemployment insurance.

This includes the basics for starters–make an up-to-date resume (see article on visual resumes here), cover letter (or template you can customize as needed), and start expanding and tapping into your networking list, if only to see how everyone else you know is doing and what you can do for them.  If you don’t know about all the online resources, start finding out by searching online, getting help at your library or talking with state support services.

Do not work on these things or store resumes, etc. at work.  Look at this job search as a second after- hours job. 

Finally, as part of your networking, make sure you have a good support community of people to help you keep on track and motivated.  If you do get laid off, don’t waste time blaming yourself for not seeing it coming, just get moving ahead.





Superbowl Career Ad–Emotional Truths, But Don’t Just React to the Negative

I confess I didn’t watch most of the Superbowl ads.  I did see the end of the game and all of the Boss of course.  But I did look later for the career ads just to keep up my career coaching cred in some weird way.

The careerbuilder ad made me laugh with its clever repetitions and images.  But with my coaching hat on, I also saw that it was containing some basic emotional truths about career or job change.  The ad showed a woman screaming in her car when she arrives at work, bosses showing no respect, people crying and punching toy koala bears.  Actually, doesn’t sound too funny when you just write it down.  But it’s through the humor that we can get to the tougher emotional truths sometime.

Most of us do wait until we feel incredibly angry, sad, frustrated, disgusted or dissed before doing anything about our jobs.  Studies show we are more likely to act in response to getting rid of pain that going for pleasure, getting rid of unhappiness than going for happiness.  That can keep us in so-so positions, which eventually will also drag us down emotionally.  It just takes longer, like water dripping until it finally makes a hole in the stone.

I Twittered about this today, how the ad showed some basic situations and feelings that revealed underlying emotional truths we need to notice and deal with.  A colleague, Shaun Jamison, replied that the problem is we often then jump from the frying pan to the fire.  I agree.  In trying to end our pain we might take rash action, having probably waited to

It’s not that the pain we’re feeling isn’t a good indicator about what to do.  It’s just incomplete.  What’s missing in part is our careful thinking about what else we can do, what jobs are better fits–but what’s also missing are the happy emotions.

The happy emotions of joy, peace, contentment, excitement can guide us to envisioning a job we’d really like.  In my coaching, I always start out finding out what really gets people energized, passionate, excited.  Doesn’t matter if it’s nonwork stuff.  First get to that connection with your energy and passion and desire, and we can then use our thinking to figure out how to apply those passions into a better career and job.

And yeh, it doesn’t hurt to be able to laugh at our problems sometimes too, as with the ad.